‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ Official Re-release Trailer

The original 2001: A Space Odyssey trailer

I am sure that you have known a person that was not nearly as clever as they thought they were.  Such people tend to be a tad insufferable because they’re so convinced of the righteousness of whatever flag they happen to be flying that they don’t appear even cognizant that there is another side of a particular issue.

Well, 2001: A Space Odyssey is the movie version of that person.  It’s clearly a brilliant movie, with great model work by Brian Johnson (Alien, Space: 1999, etc) and showcases Stanley Kubrick at the height of his powers.  That being said, it’s not nearly as brilliant as it thinks it is, on top of being so demanding–and giving so little in return–that as a result it’s one of the most boring movies that I recall seeing.

A new trailer was commissioned by the BFI (British Film Institute) and Warner Bros. in celebration of a digitally restored release of Kubrick’s seminal sci-fi movie.  It’s a good trailer, but does little to add a pulse to what is a particularly cold movie.

The re-release 2001: A Space Odyssey trailer

‘Top Five’ Trailer

Chris Rock’s Top Five was huge at the Toronto Film Festival, sparking a bidding war among studios like Lionsgate, CBS Films and Relativity, with Paramount coming out as the eventual victor.  Having seen the trailer, it looks interesting, but I am not quite what the supposedly frantic bidding was about.

Ewan McGregor As Doctor Strange? Not Buying It

Doctor Strange  Sorceror SupremeEvery since Joaquin Phoenix decided to pass of the role of Marvel Studios’ Master of the Mystic Arts, Doctor Strange, all sorts of names are being bandied about, such as Ethan Hawke and Keanu Reeves.

The latest is Ewan McGregor, and I think it’s unlikely (Ethan Hawke would be my choice, and it helps that he’s worked with the director, Scott Derrickson before in Sinister–that being said he also worked with Reeves in the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still) because McGregor may be up for another Star Wars film, though without knowing the timeline or even if it’s something he’s interested in or was even if it was offered to him, it’s hard to say.

That being said, I hope an American actor plays Strange (which isn’t to imply that it’s in any way unusual that a very American character isn’t played by one, like in the case of  Thor (Chris Hemsworth’s, who’s Australian, though his accent worked really well), Loki (Tom Hiddleston, British, and for similar reasons) and Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield, also British).

 

‘Wolves’ Red Band Trailer

What it is about werewolf movies?  For every The HowlingAn American Werewolf In London or Dog Soldiers, you get twelve Skin Walkers and lots of crummy Howling sequels.

I don’t know know in which column David Hayter’s Wolves falls, but if the trailer is any indicator, lycantrophy is being used as a thinly-veiled allegory for a young man’s transition into adulthood.

And there’s nothing wrong with that, though it’s not exactly an uncommon theme as far as horror movies go.  That being said, plot and storyline are important, but a great looking werewolf transformation goes a long way toward, if not curing all ills at least making you forget about them for a little while.

‘Pride’ Review

Pride movie poster

“”Pride” Is A Prime Example Of Why The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) Has Outgrew Its Usefulness.”

It’s normal, as humans, to try to define the world around us in as concise a manner as possible.  And it makes sense because when we were evolving as a species there were probably many instances where there just wasn’t time to go into a 50-word description about how that other tribe of proto-humans from the far side of the mountain were somehow different than we were.

That being said, a problem simplification brings is that it sacrifices nuance at the altar of  efficiency, often doing a disservice to whatever it is that that’s being described.  I mention this because Matthew Warchus’ Pride will probably be labeled as a gay movie–and while that’s not exactly inaccurate–it doesn’t tell the whole story, because in many ways the movie is about all of us, no matter how we define ourselves sexually.

It revolves around a gay rights organization headed by Mark (Ben Schnetzer) who decides to raise funds to support striking coalminers in Wales.  Both groups are vilified, and despite the miners virtually starving they were at first reluctant to accept support from a group that was openly gay.

So there’s the conflict between those that hold more traditional beliefs, versus those that were more progressive though what the movie didn’t spend nearly enough time exploring the fact that events were unfolding just when AIDS was just beginning to cut a devastating swath through the Gay community; yet Mark’s organization still chose to assist the mineworkers.

It may not have been as clear-cut as that, but the movie does create that impression.

Pride is also very monochromatic, though it’s hard to tell if that’s an accurate reflection of the history, or just the tendency of filmmakers to exclude people of color.  That being said, some do appear in crowd, club and parade scenes, and that’s about it.

Overall, Pride is an entertaining, and at times inspirational, movie that should be seen by as many people as possible because it’s less about sexuality than being true to yourself and people helping people, very often those on the face of it you hold nothing in common, other than a shared humanity.

And if that’s not something to be celebrated, then nothing is.

By the way, I just learned that Pride is rated R, which leaves me a bit baffled.   It’s a relatively tame movie–and while I wouldn’t go as far as saying that it’s been “Disneyfied“–there’s cursing, and suggestions of some Gay subcultures–there’s nothing that would offend anyone that’s the least bit respectful of the right of other people to live as they choose.

I also may be ranting a bit here, but Pride is based on the lives of real people, so why it is IMDB and CBS Films (one of the companies that produced the film) failed to include the last names of the characters is a bit beyond understanding.

‘Annabelle’ Review

Annabelle movie poster

“”Annabelle” has so much potential, most of which it doesn’t live up to.”

I have seen some God-awful, cringe-worthy movies, which John Leonetti‘s Annabelle thankfully isn’t; though it is in a way worse because it had the potential to be so much more than it ended up being, which is a passable horror movie; a trifle that you almost instantly forget upon learning the theater (which is mainly due to the movie’s tendency to play it safe, when daring was called for).

Annabelle is a prequel to The Conjuring, and you can see and feel that movie’s DNA all over the place, like a violent crime scene minutes before the arrival of a forensics team.  It’s not a bad thing, though it may have something to do with Annabelle never really feeling like its own movie, instead seemingly content to exist in the shadow of the latter.

Which is a pity because there’s a scene toward the end of the movie–if it had been allowed to play out–would have been like a punch to the solar plexus, and resulted in significantly elevating the material.

Though instead we get an ending that some might consider a bit of a cop-out, where a character sacrifices themselves for people they barely knew (which could have worked if the character in question were better fleshed out).

Another problem was that atmosphere was sacrificed at the altar of the  jump scare, which killed any change the movie had at building terror on the slow burn; the best kind.

Another smaller issue was that the doll was ghastly looking long before any demonic possession took place, which made it an odd choice for the film makers to use.  The possessed doll was supposed to have been a Raggedy Ann, which I think theatrically would have worked better just because it looks innocent and generic, as opposed to a toy that could have been assembled by the Devil himself.

I mentioned earlier that the movie relied on jump scares, which movies tend to do when they don’t have enough atmosphere to hold them together.  It’s a pity because there’s a terrifying movie somewhere in Annabelle waiting to get out.

I know this because you can see hints of its presence all over the place, just before they’re snuffed out, stillborn.

 

‘The Equalizer’ Review

The Equalizer movie poster

“Having OCD Was Probably Never So Awesome.”

Boyhood ran for 2 hours and 45 minutes, and after awhile it felt as if Richard Linklater had it in for me because what started out as an interesting theatrical experiment devolved into a bizarre and inhumane form of punishment.

By way of comparison, Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer ran for an hour and half, yet felt significantly shorter.

Now, to be fair, no people are killed in Boyhood–though there should have been at least one death, especially during what I like to call the ‘chainsaw blade scene’–but the violence in The Equalizer more often than not happened to people that deserved it, so it came off as cathartic, as opposed to gratuitous (which isn’t to say that there wasn’t a lot of it).

In fact, it’s odd to see a movie where the audience is actively rooting for someone to kill someone else, which wasn’t uncommon (at least at the showing I caught).

Part of what made Denzel Washington’s portrayal of Robert McCall so interesting is that the character has obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which means that he’s developed quite a few repetitive behaviors and rituals, the point being that his condition was what made him such an efficient killer.

I have read reviews that compared this tendency to that of Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbach) in the BBC’s Sherlock, though it’s not a valid comparison because in the case of Sherlock you’re watching a representation of a mental process Holmes is going through to arrive at a certain conclusion, while in the case of McCall you’re looking at him plot the motion of what physical action he’s about to commit to.

The Equalizer, based upon a CBS television series that aired in 1985, starring Edward Woodward, moves briskly and almost feels like a guilty pleasure of sorts, which isn’t a bad thing.